I never knew what it meant to choose mySelf. Since childhood, I was so used to pleasing everybody, that I would never think consciously about my own desires and needs. “Consciously” – is an important word.
Of course I had desires and needs -just like everybody else – only I had become an expert in repressing them and putting them off. I remember how proud I was as a child to be able “to stand on my own.” I loved it when people praised me for how “mature” I was for my age, and how proficient I was at almost everything I started. I almost looked forward to talk to everybody about all the wonderful things I had achieved by myself. I wanted to be an easy child for my parents. Someone who asked for nothing and gave everything in return.
Unfortunately, this was not sustainable at all. Only now, as an adult, I realize that I had an enormous amount of needs as a child. Looking back, I remember how anxious I used to feel everyday. Doing my homework, competing in gymnastics, making friends at school – it all scared me so much, that I would devour my nails in a second, many seconds a day. As competent I was at all the objectives I set myself to achieve, I was never skilled in calming myself down. Many mornings and nights I would crawl into the kitchen in search for food to soothe. I was hungry for care, attention and guidance, but all I could often find was bread, cereals and milk.
The good girl I was as a child turned into a bulimic teenager and a codependent adult -on top of a wonderful student, an obedient worker and a very compliant friend. I could’ve lived like that forever. After all, I was liked by everybody and had enough habits to help me go through the pressure of being always on top. But my body got sick and my energy was depleting. When I started practicing Kundalini Yoga at age 19, I started to feel my body for the first time. Every class I attended showed me how fatigued I was. I could run for hours at the gym, but two seconds of triangle pose, and my body screamed in pain.
It took me years to realize that bulimia, “toxic” relationships and being overloaded with work were the least of my problems. I remember taking the Beyond Addiction program for the first time, and feeling a tremendous relief when I heard Sat Dharam Kaur mention that all these behaviors were just my way to cope. A self-medication for unregulated amounts of cortisol in my body, deficient oxytocin and recurrent moments of adrenalin-rush.
I wasn’t sick. I was just coping. So what then? Even though I’m still a work in progress when it comes to taking care of myself, I surely have become more conscious about the needs I have and how to satisfy them. One of the first mantras I adopted after taking Beyond Addiction was, “I have needs and I deserve to attend them.” Delivering this message to myself continuously has lead me to feel my body more. Surprisingly, my body knows more about my needs than my own mind. When my mind urges me to forget about myself in order to be good, my body now asks me to stop.
“Take a pause and listen,” it often calls. And I ask myself: what do I need? Feeding my body well; nourishing it with affectionate touch, pleasurable movement and relaxation; hydrating; filling my mind with inspiration and love; asking myself first before I ask others; pleasing my heart before my head; saying no more often; and “giving myself a break” have all been ways of choosing mySelf.
If there’s something I’m grateful for is the chance to recuperate my own voice, my own agency, and my choice. When the “good girl” in me wants to sneak in and force me beyond my limits, I calm her down with compassion and choose mySelf. She’s not my problem or challenge. She’s the messenger that brings me back Home. That calls me to pay attention, and to be back on my feet.